(US, 1942– )
John Irving was born in New Hampshire and educated in the United States and Vienna. His best-known novel is The World According to Garp (1978). In it he tells the story—or stories—of the life and times of T. S. Garp, illegitimate son of a feminist leader. The novel moves from unicycling bears through castration during oral sex to transsexual football players. Yet there is pattern and meaning in such bizarre motifs, and part of the fun of reading the novel is to work them out. The same is true of The Cider House Rules (1985), the story of Homer Wells from St Cloud's orphanage. In A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989), Irving's best novel, the eponymous hero hits a foul ball in a baseball game and kills his best friend's mother.
John Barth, Thomas Pynchon SA